The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith
Author: Violet Kupersmith
Genre: Fiction (Short Stories / Contemporary / Vietnam / Vietnamese-Americans / Cross-Cultural Experiences / Supernatural Themes / Folk Lore)
Publisher/Publication Date: Spiegel & Grau (4/1/2014)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: Nine chilling and atmospheric short stories about Vietnam.
Reading Challenges: E-book, NetGalley & Edelweiss
Do I like the cover?: Love it. It reminds me of 'Boat Story', the piece that opens this collection.
I'm reminded of...: Aimee Bender, Elizabeth Hand, Sara Maitland, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
First line: The only photograph I have of my father doesn't show his face., from 'Reception'.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy, stat!
Why did I get this book?: I'm a short story fan.
Review: I loved this volume of short stories, right from the first page. Reminiscent of Aimee Bender, Elizabeth Hand, Sara Maitland, and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Kupersmith's stories have that wonderful mix of mood, slightly supernatural-y elements, and lovely language you just want to pluck out and savor.
These nine stories are set in Vietnan or in Vietnamese-American households in the US. Most have an undercurrent of creepiness to them due to a vaguely supernatural or paranormal element, usually due to creatures from myth and folk lore. They're about family -- and the mysteries in families -- or one's identity. They're about the power and danger of stories and questions. They're flat out awesome.
I don't know if I can pick a favorite from the collection, as I adored each one as soon as I finished. Kupersmith quickly evokes sense of place and characters in a few sentences, but nothing ever felt rushed or quick. There's both mood and plot in every piece.
Our muddy patch of the world was already shadowy and blood-soaked and spirit-friendly long before the Americans got here. (p56)I inhaled this volume in a night. Apparently Kupersmith is writing a novel, and I cannot wait for it. Given this taste of her style of writing, her novel is going to be incredible.
Highly, swoon-i-ly recommended. Those who aren't wild about short stories should give these a try -- each story has a satisfying arc and a fabulous ending. Short story fanatics will obviously want to get this collection. Anyone who wants an armchair escape and a brush with something ghostly and otherworldly, this is your book.
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Frangipani Hotel to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 4/25.